Mines d'Argent - Saint-Jean-Engelsbourg

Useful Information

Location: Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, Val d'Argent.
A35 motorway, exit 17 (Sélestat) towards Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines then Col des Bagenelles.
(48.213439, 7.136896)
Open: APR to JUN Tue-Sun 10-18.
JUL to AUG daily 10-19.
SEP to NOV Tue-Sun 10-18.
Closed 01-MAY.
Fee: Cité de la Mine Museum:
Adults EUR 8.50.
Mine Tour:
Adults EUR 12.50, Children (5-12) EUR 9.50, Children (0-4) free, Disabled EUR 8.50.
Groups(10+): Adults EUR 8.50, Children (5-12) EUR 6.50.
Classification: MineSilver Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=10 °C.
Guided tours: Cité de la Mine Museum:
D=60 min, audioguide.
Mine Tour:
L=850 m, D=60 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Parc Tellure, Lieu-dit Tellure, 68160 Sainte Marie aux Mines, Tel: +33-389-499830. E-mail: contact
Communauté de Communes du Val d'Argent, 11 a rue Maurice Burrus, 68160 Sainte-Croix-aux-mines, Tel: +33-389-588345, Fax: +33-389-586984.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


10th century beginning of mining, first written mention, discovery of the Saint Jean vein by monks.
13th century first mining attempts fail because of water in the shafts.
1502 discovery of silver ores in the Neuberg causes silver rush.
1517 mining law issued by Emperor Maximilian.
1545 more than 3.000 miners working in the mines.
1618 and 1648 during the Thirty Years War the mines are looted and abandoned.
1711 mining resumes.
1790s mining stopped due to problems with water.
1897 mines reopened by the Germans to exploit cobalt, arsenic, and the remaining silver.
1907 a study estimates that the mines are exhausted, mining stopped.
1946 mines reopened on a small scale.
1976 last working mine, a cobalt mine, officially closed.
2009 opened to the public.


Tellure is a sort of theme park and mining museum with underground tours. This area of the Alsace was mined for silver during centuries. The newly built Visitor Center allows access to several parts of the historic mine tunnels. The guided tours show a well-preserved 16th century silver mine. The Visitor Center offers an exhibition, multimedia displays, movies and various group activities, mainly intended for school classes. It is the starting point for a regular show mine tour and various "speleo" mine tours, where participants visit historic mine tunnels equipped with helmet, headlamp, rubber boots, and old clothes. There are tours which include climbing, fixed ladders, and abseiling of various degrees of difficulty and "escape room" tours. This mine parts are kept safe, which is important for historic mines, but not developed with trails and electric light. The experience is comparable to a visit to a working mine.

The mining started in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines in the 10th century. It then spread over the whole valley which was named Val d'Argent, because it was the location of the richest and oldest silver mining in the world. Today more than 1000 abandoned silver mines can be found in the valley.

One of the most important years was 1502, when important silver ore deposits were discovered on the Neuenberg. They caused the so-called Val d'Argent silver rush, when miners from all over started to dig for silver. This area was Austrian at this time, the Elsass (Alsace) belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was owned by the House of Habsburg. The Emperor Maximilian issued a mining law in 1517, which was valid for Alsace and Schwarzwald (Black Forest). 83 articles ruled the allocation of mines, the work and the burdens of the miners. As this mining law was in effect, the ordinary jurisdiction (especially tax law) was not relevant for the miners.

La Colonne Saint-Jean is a huge cavity of the Saint-Jean Engelsbourg siver mine, and located right behind the visitor center. It is also he largest man-made underground cavity in the Vosges Mountains with and area of 180 m².